Even the gentlest dogs can bite if they are injured, frightened, or overexcited. No matter the size or breed of the dog, a bite from any animal can cause open wounds on the skin, leading to an increased risk of infection.
In general, infections occur when bacteria, germs, or other spreadable diseases are able to enter the body, usually by means of an open gash on the skin. According to the Academy of Pediatrics, infection occurs in about 10 to 15 percent of dog bites. Dog bites that go untreated without proper cleaning and medical care are at increased risk of developing infections.
Below, we discuss a few common types of infections that can develop from dog bite injuries.
Rabies is a vaccine-preventable viral infection that is transmitted through a scratch or bite, usually from an infected animal. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the virus ultimately “spreads to the central nervous system” and lead to “progressive and fatal inflammation of the brain and spinal cord develops.”
Early symptoms of the disease include mild fevers, headaches, lethargy, and general weakness. As the disease worsens, symptoms will get progressively worse and may include:
Nausea and vomiting
Hydrophobia (fear of water)
After the dog bite, animal control will most likely monitor the animal for up to 10 days in order to determine if signs of rabies are present. If so, you should get tested and vaccinated immediately.
Dog bites can lead to staph infections and strep infections, both serious and potentially fatal conditions caused by staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria. Common symptoms include oozing blisters and boils, joint swelling, and fevers.
If you or a loved one is experiencing such symptoms after a dog bite accident, be sure to seek medical attention immediately. The doctor may have to drain the area around the patient’s bite and treat them with antibiotics in order to halt the infection from further spread.
Pasteurella multocida and pasteurella canis are bacterial organisms that live in the mouths of many dogs. When passed to humans through a bite, they can lead to a serious infection known as cellulitis. Symptoms of this infection typically manifest within the first 24 hours of the bite and include redness, swelling, tenderness around the bite, and discharge of pus from the wound.
Cellulitis spreads fast, especially in children. If left untreated, symptoms can grow worse and lead to:
Infection in the joints, bones and tendons
Numbness or tingling
Skin appearing black
Urinary tract infections
Typically, treating cases of cellulitis requires a 7 to 10-day treatment period with anti-bacterial medicines, such as amoxicillin and penicillin.
Even a dog bite that is seemingly “minor” can turn into a severe infection with disastrous consequences. If you’re injured in a dog bite accident, it’s crucial that you seek medical attention right away so you can get a proper diagnosis and treatment. Certain factors may increase the risk of infection, scarring, or other severe conditions, including:
Not thoroughly washing and cleaning the affected area
If the bite caused a deep wound
A weakened immune system
If the bite caused a fracture or other damage
The state of California follows a strict liability rule when it comes to dog bites, meaning that the owner can almost always be held responsible when their dog bites another person. Whether the dog had a history of violence or was provoked does not matter.
You shouldn’t have to pay for damages caused by a negligent dog owner. For help holding a responsible owner accountable, turn to Fowler Helsel Vogt for seasoned legal counsel. We will work hard to help you pursue the compensation you need to physically and emotionally heal from a dog bite.
Contact our Fresno injury attorneys at (559) 900-1280 to schedule your free consultation.
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